Types of Sharks

types of sharks

Different Types of Sharks 

There are a few hundred of types of sharks in our oceans. The total number of recorded shark species today is 512. Many hundreds of species of the fish had been vanished by being defeated in the big game of evolution. Most noteworthy of all extinct sharks was the Megalodon.

All the sharks are grouped in 13 major orders – 5 of which are extinct now. The extant orders are as follows:-

Ground sharks (Carcharhiniformes)
Horn sharks (Heterodontiformes)
Living fossil sharks (Hexanchiformes)
Mackerel sharks (Lamniformes)
Carpet sharks (Orectolobiformes)
Saw sharks (Pristiophoriforme)
Dogfish (Squaliformes)
Angel sharks (Squatiniformes)

We are going to present to you picture and brief discussion of some important species. Remember, there are many little known species of sharks not covered by this article. May be I’ll discuss about them sometime in the future.

Great White Shark 

Great white is a requiem shark ( a group of sharks belong to the order Carcharhiniformes). It is the most feared among all shark species. Who can forget the JAWS series? It is also actually the most dangerous for humans among all the sharks.

great white shark

Great white is also among the biggest sharks. The biggest among them can be as big as 18 ft with a weight above 4000 lb. Strong jaws and powerful body make them one formidable haunter under the ocean.

Hammerhead Shark

Even a novice in marine life can also recognize a hammerhead shark quiet easily. The reason behind that fame is its unusual hammer life design of the head. 

hammerhead shark

The special hammer like thing is called a cephalopod. It belongs to the same group as the great white. There are many species of the shark- the most famous among these are great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead etc.

Hammerhead sharks are social in some extent. They often form large schools during the day. They are aggressive in nature. So, there were some hammerhead attacks on humans in the near past. Here is our hammerhead shark coloring page.

Winghead Shark

Winghead shark is a type of hammerhead. Actually, it is slightly different from the pure hammerheads. It belongs to a separate genus named “Eusphyra” , not in the “Sphyrna” genus like the others. But their family is the same (Sphyrnidae). The scientific name of the shark is Eusphyra blochii.

The specialty of a winghead is the size of its hammer. It can be as big as the half of its body length. The shark can be seen in the waters of Indo-Pacific. It can reach a length of 6 to 6.2 ft. The body color is grey. Due to its long hammer it has an exceptional field of view. It helps the shark to hunt better. The shark is harmless in nature but has been widely caught by fisheries due to its fin, meat and liver oil.

Tiger Shark

Tiger sharks are another species of aggressive sharks. They are also considered dangerous for humans. The animal has gotten its name from the tiger like stripes over the body. The stripes are more visible in the juveniles.

tiger shark

Tiger sharks are big in size. Larger ones can be 15-16 ft with body mass above 1800 lb. That big creatures are skilled haunters just like the tigers.

Sand Tiger Shark

Another name of the sand tiger shark is the “grey nurse shark”. The scientific name is Carcharias taurus. It is an inhabitant of sub-tropical and temperate waters in the ocean around the globe. The shark is not related to tiger sharks. It actually belongs to the family of the great white shark.

The shark can be 10 to 11 ft long. It looks dangerous but actually is not very aggressive. Due to its fearsome look some people are afraid of it. The shark is known for its habit of annual migration for mating and giving birth.

Bull Shark

Carcharhinus leucas or bull shark has a stout torso just like a big bull. The shark can live in the fresh water for months. They can do it by controlling salinity and pressure of their blood and body fluid. Sometimes, that sharks go hundreds of miles upriver.

A bull shark is aggressive territorial. They can attack anything that goes near its “home”. That is why sometimes divers are also being attacked by it.

Blue Shark

A blue shark or Prionace glauca is an elegantly shaped fish. The streamlined body and the bluish skin make it one of the most beautiful sharks. It is a requiem shark just like the great white or tiger shark. The bigger females can reach 10 ft-12 ft in length with a maximum body weight of 450 lb.

Blue sharks are often killed for sport and food. They seldom attack humans. There is no incidence of unprovoked attack to humans by the creature.

Reef Sharks

There are four types of reef sharks that live in the coral reefs. They are as follows:-

Blacktip Reef Shark

The shark has a visible black tip on its fins. The shark is also a requiem shark. The shark lives in a specific area of the ocean for years. The shark lives in shallow waters near the shore and the reef areas. They are rather small in size, with a maximum length of 6 ft only.

Caribbean Reef Shark

The scientific name of the species is Carcharhinus perezii. One can easily figure out where the shark lives from its name. The shark can be as long as 10 ft. The shark sometimes can be dangerous to humans. There are a few reported incidents of attacks by it.

Grey Reef Shark

Grey reef sharks are common in the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean and eastern Pacific Ocean. Like other reef sharks it also prefers sallow water. The typical size of the full grown individuals is about 5 to 7 ft. In the daytimes they often form groups. Despite of its small size, the shark is quiet aggressive in habit.

Horn Shark

Heterodontus francisci or horn shark is a type of special shark that looks different from your common great whites. They are not requiem sharks. They are slow moving bottom dwellers. There are two horn like crests on their head. That shark is small in size (3 to 4ft).

The shark is docile in nature and never bites without provocation. It is common near the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean. There is a large population in the Gulf of California.

Port Jackson Shark

Port Jackson shark is another bull head shark like the horn shark. They looked quite similar to the horn sharks. They grow slightly bigger in size than the horn sharks. The creature is nocturnal in habit. It spends most of the daytime lying in the sea bed or hiding under the rocks.

Port Jackson Shark

Port Jackson shark is endemic to the waters of South Australia. You can find a few near New Zealand, too. It lives in shallow waters but sometimes can go to deeper parts of the ocean.

Greenland Shark

Greenland shark is one of the least studies of all sharks because it lives near Greenland. Yes, the shark likes the cold waters of North Atlantic. Scientists call it Somniosus microcephalus. The shark is very big in size.

The shark is too slow to catch faster fishes. But they haunt sleeping seals for food. Many indigenous people of Greenland love to eat the meat of the shark.

Short Fin Mako Shark

Short fin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) is one of the well known shark species around. The shark is medium to big in height and weight. Maximum length is 10 ft and weight 300 lb. The shark lives far from the continents. They do not like to go to the sea bottom.

Short fin mako is renowned for its speed. The average speed is 25 mph with maximum speed of 46 mph. The shark also often jumps out of water like dolphins.

Longfin Mako Shark

Isurus paucus or longfin mako is a shark that prefers deeper parts of the ocean to live. It is slower than its relative shortfin mako. Its maximum body length can be 14 ft. The shark is scene in all the major oceans of the world.

Longfin makos are often confused with the shortfin one. So, it is quiet difficult to determine its correct distribution. There is no reported attack on human by the creature.

Wobbegong Shark

Wobbegong shark is known for the design like a carpet on its skin. It helps the shark to camouflage. It spends most of the time lying motionless on seabed. There are 12 species of wobbegong sharks. These sharks can be seen in the tropical parts of the Indian and Pacific Ocean.

Some species can be large. Some can reach 10 ft. The shark is not dangerous if not provoked. It is often kept in large aquariums for its unique shape and color patterns.

Leopard Shark

Triakis semifasciata or leopard shark is one of the best looking sharks. There are leopard like spots over the skin of this shark. They usually live in the reefs and kelp forests. They are endemic to the Pacific coast of North America. The shark often comes to the intertidal zones where the depth of the water is too low.

The size of the shark is not that big. The largest among them rarely come close to 6 ft. Their body weight also hardly surpasses 40lb. They are active in the night while lays still in the sea bottom during the day time. The shark is completely harmless to humans.

Whale Shark

Whale shark is the largest among all sharks and fishes. Due it its mammoth size it is called a “whale” shark. They are also filter feeders like most whales. The fish can be more than 45 ft in length and more than 66000 lb in weight! But such big specimens are rare today.

whale shark

Whale sharks, despite their size feed on small planktons. So, they are completely harmless. They are not predators like other sharks. That pelagic shark can be found in many tropical seas around the globe.

Basking Shark

Basking shark is another large species. It can reach 25-26 ft often. This shark is also a filter feeder. It has a big mouth which is most of time kept open filtering water for plankton. The creature swims near the surface of the ocean.

A Cetorhinus maximus or basking shark lives in temperate oceans. It is a slow moving and docile animal. It is completely harmless to human.

Spiny Dogfish

Spiny dogfish is a smaller species of sharks. The fish is hardly recognized as a shark by common fishermen. 

spiny dogfish

It can only be 4-5 ft max. The shark got its name due to 2 spines. It uses these spines for defense. These spines are mildly venomous.

Spiny dogfish or Squalus acanthias is used as food in Europe and Asia. Due to large scale fishing targeting the species, it is now in danger.

Roughtail Catshark

Roughtail catsharks are one of the shortest species of shark. The maximum length of the species is 13 inches. It lives in the Caribbean Sea and the southern part of the Atlantic coast of USA. The shark is a bottom dwellers living at a depth of 100 to 2300 ft.
The small shark feeds on crustaceans and sea worms. It has beautiful skin decorated with dark saddles and spots. The shark is harmless and has no commercial value.

Draughtsboard shark

It is a type of cat shark. Like other catsharks it is also small in size. It has a checkerboard like color pattern. The shark reaches 3 to 4 ft in length. It lives in the rocky reefs and sandy plains on the sea bed.
 The shark is known as “barking shark”. When it is caught by humans and brought out of the water it sucks a lot of air in the stomach and then release it producing barking like sound. (Cephaloscyllium isabellum) is endemic to New Zealand. It can inflate its body to intimidate attackers like a puffer fish.

Angel Shark

Angels sharks are a group of sharks of the genus Squatina. There are 22 species of the group living today in different oceans and seas around the world. These fishes all have flat body like a ray. These are all bottom dwellers.

The most representative species of the group is Squatina squatina or monkfish. It is a native to the Atlantic Ocean shores of Western Europe and Saharan Africa. There are also many in the Mediterranean.

Gulper Shark

Gulper shark is a deep water species. It has green eyes. The gulper sharks live long. The females can live up to 70 years. But there gestation period is too long (about 2 years). That is why the rate of reproduction of the species is not very high. The number of the shark is reducing fast due to overfishing. It is hunted because of having large quantity of liver oil. Its meat and fin are also consumed.

The gulper shark is small and can be 2ft in length only. Due to its small size it possess no threat to people.

Saw Shark

The sharks in the order Pristiophoriformes are known as saw sharks. These sharks have a long snout. The snout is edges with teeth just like a saw. These sharks are medium in size.

Saw shark

One of the most well known saw sharks is Japanese sawshark. Scientists call it Pristiophorus japonicas. The shark is medium in size and weight. It lives in the sea bottom near the shores.

Goblin Shark

Goblin shark really looks like a member of the Lucifer’s gang. The creature has such a jaw that can come out of its mouth towards the prey! Their body is also colorless with visible blood flowing in its vein.

Mitsukurina owstoni or goblin shark is a deep sea fish. It is also pretty rare. The shark is very difficult to spot even by the experienced ocean experts. As it is a deep sea shark, there is no interaction between it and humans.

Thresher Shark

Some sharks are easy to indentify – thresher shark is one of them. Nobody will mistake its long tail or caudal fin. Another name of the fish is fox shark. The common thresher shark is most common in the North Pacific. The common thresher or Alopias vulpinus can be as big as 20 ft.

Thresher Shark

Bigeye thresher is another closely related shark. Scientists call it Alopias superciliosus. It is found in both temperate and tropical oceans. It is smaller than the common thresher. The pelagic thresher or Alopias pelagicus is another cousin species. It is the smallest in the family in size.

Brown Banded Bamboo Shark

Chiloscyllium punctatum or  brownbanded bamboo shark is relatively smaller shark. It is common in the Indian and Pacific Ocean, especially the ocean area from Japan to Northern Australia. The juveniles of the species have visible bands across the body. It makes the shark (and manageable size) one of the popular choices among salt water aquarium hobbyists.

Cow Shark

Cow sharks are a group of 37 species. Another name of that group is Hexanchidae. They are very primitive. They are known for extra one or two pairs of gill slits.

 Sharp nose sevengill is the most well known among all cow sharks. Heptranchias perlo or sevengill has seven pair of gill slits.The shark is very aggressive, though small in size. The maximum size is 4.5 ft.

Sixgill Shark

Sixgill sharks are actually cow sharks with one less gill slit. Yes, they have only 6 gill slits visible from the outside. The shark lives in the deep sea. The bluntnose sixgill can be 16 ft long. Little has been known about those solitary sharks.

Frilled Shark

A frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) is one of the creepiest looking marine animals. In fact, it has snake like feel. The head and the eyes are just like a snake. It also swims like one. The shark has an eel shaped body. It is a primitive “living fossil” that has changed little in millions of years.

Frilled SharkThe shark has a very long gestation period- about 3.5 years! The largest specimens may reach 6.5 ft from head to tail tip. The shark rarely comes to the surface. So, there is little chance to encounter with humans.

Nurse Shark

A nurse shark is a slow moving bottom dwelling lazy shark. Scientists call it as Ginglymostoma cirratum. Due to its lack of speed it feeds on hidden or sleeping fishes and crustaceans at night. The shark is mainly found in the Atlantic Ocean.

The baby sharks have spots over their body which fades with age. The shark lives in large groups in the day time. They spend most of the time lying dormant on sea beds.

Dwarf Lantern Shark

Dwarf Lantern Shark

Dwarf lantern shark or Etmopterus perryi is shortest among all known shark species. The dwarf lanterns glow in the dark hence the name. The shark lives in the dark deep ocean where sunlight never reaches. That is why they produce bio-luminance. That shark is only found near Columbia and Venezuela. The dwarf lanterns rarely grow more than 8 inches.

Blurred Lanternfish

Blurred lanternfish is the largest among all lanternfish sharks. Like others of the group they also have light emitting photophores in their body. The average size of a full grown blurred lanternfish is 26 inches. The shark is widely available around the world.

Banded Houndshark

Banded houndsharks belong to the shark family named Triakidae. It is seen in the North Western Pacific Ocean near the coasts of Russia, Japan, China and Taiwan. It has dark bands upon the gray body. The bands fade with age. The mature banded houndshark’s average body length is 4.5 to 5 ft. The mating time is the summer months. The gestation period is long (10-12 months). The litter size is big, from 30 to 45 pups at a time.

Megamouth Shark

Megamouth shark is extremely rare. It is very difficult to find one in the oceans. The shark is a deep ocean dweller. It is the 3rd species of the three plankton eating sharks- the other two are whale and basking sharks. It was only discovered in 1976.

The shark has a brown top and white belly. The shark is slow and lazy in habit. They are large and can be as big as 18 ft. They have a big mouth with very small teeth. It is docile in nature.

Lemon Shark

Lemon sharks are known for there light yellow skin. The sharks get the name "lemon" from that skin color. The species is known as Negaprion brevirostris among the experts. The shark can grow up to 11 ft. They are strong and powerful hunters. It is a requiem shark.

Lemon Shark

Pondicherry shark

Pondicherry sharks are a rare species of requiem shark. The fish is small in size. It rarely exceeds 3.3 ft. It is a well built animal with a long snout. There are prominent black spots at the tip of the fins, especially on pectoral fins and the lower part of the caudal fin.

There are many other types of sharks in the oceans. These apex predators of the sea are fascinating creatures. Follow the links to learn more about them.